La Brace

And, whilst we’re talking about restaurants and food, I forgot to mention that, whilst we were on holiday, we went to F’s favourite restaurant.

Following a twisty road up the mountainside outside Carrara, one enters Liguria and up and up, to Montemarcello, clinging precariously to the mountainside and a small but perfectly formed restaurant.

Unfortunately, I have forgotten exactly what I had (I had lamb). I remember it was wonderful. F, who doesn’t eat meat, as you know, loves it all the same and has whatever vegetable options they have. The meat is cooked on an open, barbecue-style, wood-heated grill. The meat is first class. the whole meal was wonderful and we had a lovely time.

La Brace is well worth a trip if you’re anywhere near the south of Liguria. And, if it’s warm enough, sit outside under the pergola – a great atmosphere.

No words

“I really hope we go on and on”, he writes. He has had a wonderful year.

I am annoyed with myself that I didn’t get him a card now.

However, the cardigan was well accepted, so that’s good. And he added that he likes almost everything in Zara, so that’ll be the shop I use. He got me a camera which was lovely.

Saturday night we went to Taverna dell Lampara. Now, first off, I could not find any website in English where there was any review and so the link is only to Google Maps. We’ve been there a few times now and this was our choice since a) it is close to our houses, b) the food is superb and c) the atmosphere was perfect.

Unlike most restaurants in Italy, the lighting is subdued, meaning it is a little more romantic than most. They do fish – almost all fish, so don’t go there thinking there will be any meat. And, book – since they are almost always full. It is only a small restaurant (about 30 covers) and, unusually (compared to Giacomo, for example), the tables are larger and more spaced – meaning you’re not bumping elbows with your next door neighbour as you eat.

The service is quite good but everything is freshly cooked and so, sometimes, you have to wait a little. To start with, their bread is fantastic. Dark crusty bread – almost like a good crusty English loaf. Then they serve you some fish polpetta (meat ball) and some frittata (like a kind of omelete) – only small, just as a kind of sampler, if you like.

I had prawns and leeks as an antipasto, which was truly divine. The leeks just the right amount of flavour, not taking anything from the prawns. F had the usual raw tuna with uncooked fennel, very thinly sliced. We skipped the pasta (prima), as normal. I then had branzino (sea bass) cooked in a greaseproof paper parcel. This is different every time. This time was with slices of potato, olives and capers. It was lovely and cooked to perfection. F had, as usual, the Tuna with a sesame seed crunchy topping. For sweet, F had some chocolate mouse thing and I had some creamy thing with strawberries (I always seem to forget the sweets :-( ).

We had two bottles of Lighea – a white wine that F loves and it is very nice.

At the end of that we paid about €60 a head – however, it should have been more and we’re certain that they didn’t include one of the bottles of wine – even though I heard the young lad tell her that we had two.

So, not cheap but it is beautiful food and, as I mentioned, the atmosphere, with it’s low level lighting makes for a very romantic meal. It is one of the hidden gems of Milan. But you have to book.

Sunday, the actual day, was a nice day. We took the dogs for a shortish walk in the afternoon. F is still not feeling so good and, although it was sunny, it is not so warm now. And then, for most of the day I was cooking.

He brought some anchovies. These we buy from Carrefour and they are delicious. They are not done in some strong vinegar (as seems to be the norm) and, once open, are difficult not to finish. With some fresh crusty bread, they are wonderful.

I had arranged my new table, candles and everything. I had got a really nice couple of bottle of wine from ‘my’ wine shop. I put the remains of the mirto in the freezer.

He arrives whilst I am in the shower. “Oh, you’ve done Lemon Meringue Pie”, he says. Ah, so he’s brought something. No matter.

So, we had the anchovies first. Then I had done Roasted Tomato Soup with croutons and a basil paste. He wasn’t sure about the basil paste. He put a little in the soup but, after trying it, he kept adding more. He liked it! When we had finished the soup, he even got a piece of bread and spread some of the basil paste on it. I tried it and it was nice.

Next there was the sea bass, baked on a bed of pan-fried potatoes with a slightly hot (as it had chilli in it) sauce/filling. He’s not keen on bones but he said it was nice. I also did buttered leeks as a veg. He particularly loved the potatoes and the leeks.

For sweet we had a slice of the pie and a couple of little ramekins filled with different ice creams.

It was all lovely and I think he really enjoyed it all. He knew it had taken some effort and I think he was grateful for that.

I’m considering adding my favourite recipes to this site – just like I add my favourite restaurants. Particularly as some recipes I do are those handed down or that I have found over the years. Hmm, maybe.

Next time, I think I will do the sea bass recipe with fillets rather than whole fish. Less bones would be better, I think. Also, I think I would marinate the sea bass in the sauce – it would give a little more flavour to the sea bass.

Still, all in all, a great success and a lovely weekend.

And really, even if he doesn’t use words so much, I too, hope that we go on and on.